10 To Watch In 2019: Racers, Events, and More

by Chris Leone // Website // Twitter
Images via The Mint 400 (1); Richard Dowdy/IndyCar (2); Joe Skibinski/IndyCar (3); Rally in the 100 Acre Wood (4)

2018 may have come and gone, but 2019 is due to be a ridiculously good year for action motorsports of all types. Whether you’re looking forward to Fernando Alonso’s return to Indianapolis or just a proper short course unification race, it’s hard to pick any month this year that doesn’t have something excellent on the calendar.

While you’re nursing that New Year’s hangover this morning, have a look at these 10 competitors, cars, and events and see if you can power through. Did we miss anyone, or anything? Tell us on Twitter at @JimBeaver15 or @christopherlion:

Driver: Fernando Alonso

He’s returning to Indianapolis with a full-bore McLaren effort. He’s keeping on with Toyota in the World Endurance Championship and going for another 24 Hours of Le Mans win. But what else will Alonso do in 2019? The racing world continues to hold its collective breath, hoping he’ll drop in and compete.

Driver: Scott Speed

Here’s an interesting combination: Speed, now a four-time defending rallycross champion in the United States, joins Subaru Rally Team USA, a team whose fans have hated his guts for years. Will the addition of Speed to Patrik Sandell and Chris Atkinson allow the team to earn its first Americas Rallycross title?

Driver: Matt Smith

This year’s NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Pro Stock Motorcycle champion will trade two wheels for four in 2019 in whatever races that the bikes aren’t running. Smith will join Elite Performance, which fielded Jeg Coughlin Jr. and Erica Enders earlier this season, when he’s not defending his PSM title.

Team: Harding Steinbrenner Racing

Harding Racing struggled as a full-time team in 2018 with a number of drivers in the cockpit. An infusion of funding from George Michael Steinbrenner IV, switch to Honda power, and top rookies Patricio O’Ward and Colton Herta could be the remedy to those struggles in 2019.

Car: PMR Motorsports Chevrolet Sonic LS3 AWD

Pat Moro returns to stage rally in 2019 with one of the craziest car builds we’ve heard of in a while: a V8-swapped Chevrolet Sonic. The car is set to debut in the American Rally Association and go up against the factory-backed Subaru Rally Team USA effort; how close will Moro be in the Sonic’s debut?

Truck: Menzies Motorsports Trophy Truck

Bryce Menzies’ all-wheel-drive off-road beast actually debuted earlier this year, but it’s still only competed in a handful of events and has yet to take an overall victory after a freak mechanical issue in its debut at General Tire Vegas to Reno. The question isn’t if it takes a dominant win, but when.

Event: The Mint 400

The bikes are back! The Mint 400 has regained its rightful status as one of desert racing’s premier events in recent years, and now we can look forward to the return of motorcycles for the first time in years. The Las Vegas-based event already attracts most of the sport’s top talent, so there’s a lot to be excited for.

Event: Rally in the 100 Acre Wood

Originally announced as the opening round of the American Rally Association season, schedule realignments have now bumped 100AW to second on the calendar. But many of the top drivers in the sport are expected to debut in March, meaning this should be a remarkably deep entry list.

Event: IndyCar Classic

Between the previous two listed events and IndyCar’s long-awaited debut at Circuit of the Americas, March is due to make nearly every other month in 2019 look boring. COTA will host the second of 17 rounds in the upcoming season, in the first year of a five-year contract to bring IndyCar to Austin.

Event: Lucas Oil Speedway Off Road Shootout

When short course racing unified under the Lucas Oil banner in 2018, we all knew that a cooperative midwest/west coast event was coming. Lucas Oil Speedway in Missouri was already part of the latter series, and will now count for points in both championships.

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